Tory MP Sam Gyimah joins race to succeed Theresa May with pledge for second Brexit referendum
Tory MP Sam Gyimah today threw his hat in the ring for the Tory leadership, becoming the first candidate in the race to back a second referendum on Brexit.
The former minister said a “final say” on the Brexit deal - including the options of a no-deal Brexit, the deal Theresa May struck with Brussels and staying in the EU - was the only way to “bring the country together”.
Mr Gyimah quit as science and universities minister in December last year to back calls for a second vote to break the Brexit deadlock in Westminster.
Today he announced on Sky News that he would become the 13th candidate to join the race to succeed Theresa May, which will begin officially after she quits as Tory leader this Friday.
But he marks a major break with the current crop of candidates, none of whom have backed a second referendum and many of whom have pledged to take the country out of the EU without a deal if needed.
“I will be joining the contest to be the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister to broaden the race,” he told the Sophy Ridge on Sunday show on Sky News.
“There is a wide range of candidates out there but there is a very narrow set of views on Brexit being discussed.”
He said: “We want to move forward and we want to be able to bring the country together. And so that is why I think a final say on the Brexit deal is the way to achieve that.”
Mr Gyimah said he would vote Remain in another EU referendum, but argued the vote would be a chance for the public to be clear about what they want, rather than an effort to overturn the 2016 result.
“The country could still say loudly again, now that we know the terms of departure and what is negotiable, that it still wants to leave,” he explained.
“The fact we have got to confront is how to we move forward from this impasse. At the moment, carrying on and doing more of the same when the maths hasn’t changed in the House of Commons and when we have lost a Prime Minister is not exactly the best way to serve our country.”
But Mr Gyimah warned that a no-deal Brexit would be an “abject failure” without a vote confirming the public wanted one, and said he would be unable to serve in the Cabinet of any prime minister who disagreed.
He said: “In the referendum campaign people were promised a deal. In our manifesto people were promised a deal.
“To pursue no deal with all that it entails, without the public having given us consent that that is what they want, I believe would be a failure.”
Elsewhere on the show, Justice Secretary David Gauke announced he was backing “underdog” leadership candidate Rory Stewart.
He said: “Having worked with Rory, he is a serious figure, very, very thoughtful, articulate.
“I think he’s got an ability to connect with the public and connect with the people we need to bring over to ensure that we can break this impasse.
“I think he’d be a very good prime minister.”
The bid follows the announcement from Cabinet minister Liz Truss that she is backing Boris Johnson in the race.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said the frontrunner had the “oomph” to deliver Brexit and announced she was joining his campaign as a policy “tsar”.